I’ve grown strangely adept at “shopping” for women. As I walk through the mall, museums, or even church, I subconsciously “shop” by picking out physical attributes on other women (both friends and strangers) that I wish I had instead of my own.
Oh yes, her face, please . . .
. . . and her arms . . .
. . . and her height . . .
. . . and one last thing . . .
But we know the next thing never will be the last thing, not as long as we’re searching for physical beauty rather than Christ. I will never meet my ideal because my ideal isn’t real; it’s a combination of perceived flaws I want fixed. Fantasy never lives up to reality. As much as my insecurity yearns for it, the stitched together picture in my head isn’t real, and I have no power to make it real.
Did God Get It Wrong?
The intricate power and intimate knowledge of knitting together humans belong with God alone. And that’s exactly the foundation of the sin of insecurity: not trusting that God got it right.
When we do this, we objectify our sisters and fellow women by reducing them down to nothing but a combination of physical characteristics to be envied and picked out piece by piece. This fierce envy is certainly not loving others before ourselves, and it is most certainly not declaring God sovereign and most glorious.
In doing this, I declare to him and the world that he who is timeless simply got it wrong:
You may have placed each and every star (Psalm 147:4), O God, but you’re off on the inches you allotted me.
You may have numbered the hairs on my head (Luke 12:7), but you gave them the wrong color.
You may have formed the mountains (Amos 4:13), but you didn’t craft my body correctly. You made a mistake — or twelve.
Such arrogance! We fail to remember that our bodies were crafted in the mind of God. He cannot knit us together wrongly. Our wants and affections can be wrong. We should long to fulfill his purpose for us to image him, and recognize that physical attractiveness will never fulfill or satisfy us.
Made for Beauty
We truly are not the most beautiful because we weren’t made finally to be beautiful, but to serve the one who is. We are free from the burden of “beautiful” as the world sees it, because resting in our given physical features points to the one whose beauty will shine for eternity. There is otherworldly peace to be found in not being beautiful as society defines it — a certain height, specific measurements, a “wow” factor. It’s okay if our bodies aren’t perfect. Our features, like the rest of creation, are flawed hints at the Creator’s perfection.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t steward our bodies as temples (1 Corinthians 6:19). If the Spirit of Christ lives in us, our bodies are not our own to be selfishly used or abused (1 Corinthians 6:20).
We do not need attractive bodies to shine before the eyes of men. The eyes of the Lord are ever on us already, rejoicing as we turn from our rebellious ways and grieving when we chase the lusts of our flesh — including our yearning to be someone (often anyone) other than who we were woven to be by our sovereign, loving Lord.
Lies in the Mirror
I’m only 24. Faint lines are already appearing on my face. I’ve never carried children, but already my body is marked and scarred. I cannot lighten my eyes no matter how hard I stare at the wall. I cannot lengthen my torso anymore than worrying will add an hour to my life (Matthew 6:27).
I’ve been the teenage girl crumpled on the dressing room floor, sick to my stomach from what I saw in the mirror; I’ve been the woman believing I was single because a man would never want someone who looks like I do.
But our God is not of the world, and is not enslaved to this-world beauty. He chooses to call us “beloved” because of Christ (Romans 9:25). There is nothing greater to be (1 Corinthians 2:9), and yet there is nothing more humbling to be. In Christ, we learn to set the cloud of our insecurities aside and embrace the light of Christ-centered humility. But it isn’t easy. Our need to have the perfect body must be crucified. As Puritan writer Isaac Ambrose wrote, “Bodily beauty without Christ is but as green grass on a rotten grave.”
Less of Me, More of Him
Insecurity is a monstrous thing we’re encouraged to wallow in. We don’t like to call it sin because it’s a tender and painful area in many lives. But it’s nothing more than inverted pride. The more we focus on our insufficiency, the less we celebrate and cling to Christ’s sufficiency. The more we focus on what we wish we were, the less our hearts long for the one who was, and is, and is to come. The more we focus our energy on envying fellow women, the less prone we will be to serve them.
Insecurity should never be taken lightly as something to ignore or leave unsanctified because “everyone struggles with it.” It ought to be prayed over and battled fiercely in and with Christ.
Society shifts. Popularity fades. Bodies decay. But he is the I am (Malachi 3:6), to the very end (Isaiah 46:10). And beyond (Psalm 90:2). The next time Satan lies to you in the mirror, look away from the mirror and open God’s word. Set the eyes of your heart on a greater, more satisfying beauty. Take another long, deep look at Christ.
Calley Sivils is a college graduate (B.S. Linguistics) growing in love and service to others in a small Missouri town. She writes on her blog, Washedwanderer, and you can reach her on Facebook. This article first appeared on desiringgod.org.